Mopar-Powered Brit: 1971 Jensen Interceptor MkII Project

The brothers Jensen formed Jensen Motor Company in 1934. Known for making bodies for Austin Healey, Volvo (P1800), and Sunbeam (Tiger), Jensen also produced its own cars, often powered by American engines. In the 1960s, it was making a car called the CV8. Though fast thanks to its big block Chrysler engine, the CV8’s styling was controversial and it only sold 500 examples over five years. Responding to the criticism, Jensen – now run by a new set of characters – contracted with Carrozzeria Touring of Italy to design a grand tourer. The prototype was built by Vignale, and the car was given a recycled name – the Interceptor. (The first Interceptor was made by Jensen in the 1950s.) The MkI Interceptor was a beast, motored with the Chrysler 383 cu. in. V8 paired with a TorqueFlite automatic transmission (a few manuals were made but they are very rare). With 335 bhp on tap, the car rocketed 0 to 60 in a little over 7 seconds. Later, the 440 cu. in. was offered, raising the bar for performance. Here on craigslist is a Jensen Interceptor Mk II for sale, with an asking price of $16,500. This car is located in The Dalles, Oregon. Thanks to Matt H. for the tip!

I lived with a hatchback for a while and now own a convertible Interceptor. If you like scads of power with a nimble feel, and luxury all day long, these cars are for you. Trouble comes from the cooling system; that immense engine does not like to idle in traffic in the close quarters of this engine bay. The seller of this Jensen does not provide engine bay photos but says the 383 cu. in. V8 starts and runs with good oil pressure. The odometer reads 5999 miles but has turned over. This car is marred by rust in a front fender and the occasional dent. The chrome has seen better days but could probably be improved with polish. The large back glass hatch struts can fail.

About 13 hides are required to clothe the Interceptor interior, so better hope this cabin can be resurrected. The seller indicates he has about a quarter hide to go with the car. The rear seats look great. We aren’t given a view of the driver’s seat, but the driver’s door has seen better days.

We can’t finish an article about the Interceptor without mentioning that yes, The Saint drove an Interceptor coupe. This photo also gives a sense of how grand these cars can be when restored. Maybe this one deserves repair and new paint, what do you think?


  1. alphasud Member

    We have seen a lot of Jensen Interceptors on BarnFinds over the years. I would say most have been seen on the PNW where the weather is a little more kind to this fragile car. With big block Mopar power I would be inclined to manual swap and rework the engine with 10.5:1 compression a hotter cam, and a pair of max wedge reproduction heads. With almost 600hp on tap you could run with the big dogs. Just don’t forget the brakes, suspension, steering, and tires to cope with this tower of power. Could be a poor man’s Corvette C2 big block only not as pretty.

    Like 3
    • RayT Member

      Don’t forget the rust repair!

      Back in the ’90s I had a neighbor who bought an Interceptor, this car’s near-twin. A lovely car in most respects, but it came with the Corrosion Package. All four wheelarches, both sail panels and the hatch would have needed patches and subsequent panel-beating and paint. He didn’t keep it long enough to deal with those….

      Six hundred ponies would have opened the thing like a sardine can, I’m afraid.

      Like 4
      • alphasud Member

        Good point!

        Like 1
  2. chrlsful

    “…what do U think…”
    all depends on a visit (inspection to see).
    Lots to do from pic viewing, write up. If for a sale
    that’s 1 decision (and the return is based on aqusition price)
    to keep is a different one. These models would keep my
    interested thru the rest0(mod?) process…

    Like 1
  3. Douglas Plumer

    Interesting example. Wish it was closer to MA. Is it just me, or did the Saint drive a volvo 1800?

    Like 2
    • Ian Parker

      I don’t ever recall the Saint driving a Jensen, I only ever saw the shows with the Saint driving a White Volvo, n as a Teenager my nickname were the Saint, with the Stick Figure as my Signature, Kids Eh.

      Like 1
      • Madfret Mann

        There were two versions of The Saint. Roger Moore drove the Volvo; the later, 1980 version had the Jensen……

        Like 1
      • FireAxeGXP

        One of my ex-wives refers to me as The Saint. Made no sense til I realized she was referring to the tag line for The Saint 97 movie. Cunning Devious. Dangerous. Treacherous.
        Gee thanks.

        Like 0
  4. Cam W.

    I have always appreciated large, grand touring coupes like this. I have owned and maintained dozens of different makes and models over the years, but have yet to find a suitable Interceptor project, at a reasonable price.
    Several years ago, I was a customer and friend of a family-owned local shop that was well-regarded for their restoration and work on Jensens, and other British marques.
    I became aware of a couple Interceptors for sale a seemingly good price.
    Before going to see the cars for sale, I stopped at my friend’s shop for a quick tutorial on inspecting Interceptors. Luckily they had several examples in the shop, so I could look and learn. The drivetrains were simple, and relatively easy to work on, with related parts generally inexpensive, and plentiful.
    The bodies were a different story. They were notoriously rust-prone, and often entail major surgery. On some other cars, a rusty floor is not difficult to replace/repair, but on Interceptors, the rust usually attacks the torque boxes, and rockers too. This is a big job that is beyond most DIY guys (me included). Most shops won’t want to get involved,(or really shouldn’t) and those that are qualified are usually very expensive, and have long waiting lists.
    The next thing to consider is the interior. If the car has a bad interior, the cost for a complete, proper re-trim will be very expensive, and may exceed the value of the car.
    Over the years, I have looked a 6 Interceptor projects for sale . Most ran, some looked like OK drivers, others were obvious projects. All had at least some rust, but most were in imminent need of major rust repair. Two required major, specialist interior work. I am still looking…….
    It is often said that you should buy a car in the best condition that you car afford. With Interceptors, this is especially true.
    The car for sale here looks relatively decent in the pics, but I am concerned that there are no undercarriage shots. Noting the rust bubbling through the rockers, I must assume that the torque boxes , and floors may be bad too. If it was local, I would check it out. At this price, if there is significant rust, I would pass.

    Like 6
  5. Bill S.

    Roger Moore never drove an Interceptor but Simon Dutton did when the series was revived in the late 1980s.

    And neither the car that he drove nor the one for sale are coupes – that was a different Jensen Interceptor model.

    Like 0
  6. Howie

    Not too bad, no engine photos.

    Like 0
  7. Bill S.

    It should be noted that while the description speaks of a 383 engine with 330 bhp, that is not the engine sent with the North American Interceptors. They received a lowered compression Federalized version that put out less power than the home market cars.

    Like 1
    • Michelle Rand Staff

      Yes, the 383 was detuned for 1971 but as was typical with British car makers, it’s hard to know exactly when the detuned 383 started. The compensation was the 440, of which two were offered. Whether or not original, our convertible is a ‘six pack’ with the three two barrels. I don’t think it’s original, as the previous owner was kind of a hot rodder, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

      Like 0
  8. Bill S

    The detuned 383 started with the Mk 3 cars shipped to North America.

    Your convert will not be original with a sixpack as only one was built that way. The full sixpack spec included high compression pistons, cam and the carb set up.

    It is a formidable set up – I built my CV8 with a 383 high compression sixpack and top end was above 140 mph. They actually produce reasonable fuel mileage as they run on the centre two barrel until opened up. See for CV8 sixpack.

    Like 1
    • Michelle Rand Staff

      I love the CV8, great styling. … the Jensen convert gets, I dunno, maybe 10 mpg? About what the 73 farm truck with the 390 gets.

      Like 0
  9. Bill S

    I did a bit better on my convert (have owned a CV8, two saloons and a convert) at around 16-18 mpg, but the fact that the top when down didn’t disappear but settled in a great heap on the back of the passenger area so you couldn’t see anything behind you in the rear view mirrorwas disappointing.

    Like 0
  10. Jay McCarthy

    Jensen actually had a concept drawing of a saloon version to do away with the hideous bulbous rear end

    Like 0

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